A Weekend I Won’t Soon Forget

I haven’t written in over a week. It’s been that kind of crazy. I’m learning that my blog takes a hit when I get busy like that. This Memorial Day Weekend is one I won’t soon forget.

Wednesday, May 23
I get the call no one likes to get – even when it is expected. Don Dabney was getting worse. Calling all family in.

Today is also ‘Graduation’ day of another kind. Cooper promotes into high school, Camber goes to high school. (Where did the time go?).

After Coop’s graduation, I run to the hospital. Lisa and the two girls are in the room. I honestly don’t know how Lisa is still standing up. It’s been a grueling 3 months. We talk a long time about the decisions that are in front of them. I can’t fathom the exhaustion or the emotions. As I am leaving, the older son shows up. It’s just me, Lisa, Don, and the kids in the room. We talk some more. I pray asking for wisdom, peace, and courage. Then I leave. They have to make some decisions.

I grab a burger with Amy. We’ve got a few minutes before Camber’s promotion into middle school.

After Promotion, get a few minutes to work on message. I start heading to the hospital when Lisa texts me that Don has passed away. He went peacefully with family around him.

The room feels cavernous with all the machines and wires gone. It’s also very, very still other than the wind howling outside. It’s a wind advisory day. We can feel the windows rattle. Lisa tells me that days like this were Don’s favorite. He was a sailor. Loved windy days.

We pray, read a few scriptures but mostly we are quiet. This is the stuff they don’t teach you or tell you about in seminary. Just being in the room, being still and allowing people the room, space and permission to grieve. Being in the fog with them. There’s no hurry to get out of it.

Mostly a blur. I try to finish up the message for Sunday but I’m bouncing between the wedding I’ll do on Saturday, our life group outing on Monday, and the funeral on Tuesday.

Meet the Dabney’s at the funeral home. Help walk through all the decisions. I say help – I sit in the room and smile and tease Meredith or Alex as needed. They dish it back as well so hopefully it’s a humorous distraction. Given the circumstances – it’s a good but hard afternoon.

Morton-Smith wedding rehearsal. Wedding rehearsals used to be the bane of my existence. I have had some nightmare ones where both mothers and the bride all argue over what to do and where to put people. We are talking about less than 24 hours before the wedding and they are already acting like family. Nothing like stressing out the bride and groom before they start their life together.

Then I started doing weddings with Ginger McIlvain. She is awesome. She basically is the bride’s pit bull.

I’m not calling Ginger a dog. Okay – I am but in the nicest way possible. She meets and talks with the bride to make sure that she (meaning the bride) gets exactly what she wants. It’s the bride’s day. Then on the night of rehearsal, Ginger runs it. She is nice and fun and energetic and professional…but there is no doubt who is in control of that rehearsal. It’s a benevolent dictatorship and it is an awesome thing. She makes the rehearsal run like silk. (Does silk run?) You get my meaning.

(I don’t think Ginger reads the blog so maybe I can get away with this. If not, this post will be very expensive.)

Wedding day. Bride and groom exit to Star Wars fanfare. It is the most awesomest thing ever. Then there is a Han Solo and Princess Leah on the wedding cake. And that is the most awesomest thing ever. The only thing that would have been even awesomer is having the Falcon take them off to their honeymoon.

Two services. Meet with Dabney family to go over funeral plans. House is full of family.

I get up to go fishing. Our life group is coming over this evening. It’s always fun. But I also have a sprinkler system to fix. I get one of the three problems fixed.

Funeral day. It’s a long day. Graveside was incredible. The Honor Guard from Ft. Riley presided. There is just something about a military funeral. Very moving. Food back at church with family and extended family.

Now the hard part for both the Dabney’s and the Smith’s – living life after the ceremony.


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